a beautiful (buttermilk) baby
Ben Berg's new retro-style diner slices into the Heights with sweet Carvel treats
Ben Berg isn’t slowing down any time soon. The founder of Berg Hospitality, the local restaurant group behind concepts such as The Annie Cafe, B&B Butchers, and Trattoria Sofia, is adding an old school soda fountain to his roster.
Called Buttermilk Baby, the restaurant will open in the Heights M-K-T mixed-use development where it will join restaurants such as Homestead, Da Gama, and Blue Sushi Sake Grill. Slated to open this fall, Buttermilk Baby will serve a diner-style menu built around burgers, chicken sandwiches, biscuits, and New York’s iconic Carvel ice cream. As Berg explains, the concept is grounded in his memories of eating in diners while growing up in New York City.
“I wanted to do a diner. It kind of morphed into this,” Berg tells CultureMap. “Here’s my soda fountain diner without the extensive menu. We’re not going to do chicken parm or souvlaki.”
While many of Berg’s existing concepts already serve burgers, Buttermilk Baby’s will be distinct, with its own beef blend. Like at any diner, it will be cooked on a griddle. Yes, burgers-on-a-biscuit will be an option.
Carvel ice cream will be a key offering, marking the company’s return to Houston, according to a release. Buttermilk Baby will serve Carvel favorites such as milkshakes, sundaes, and the Carvelanche, which is soft serve mixed with candies such as Oreo cookies, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and M&M’s. Similarly, the restaurant will serve Carvel’s signature ice cream cakes, including Fudgie the Whale.
“Every birthday, unless my mom made carrot cake, was a Carvel Fudgie the Whale cake,” Berg says. “We’ll probably have five or six of the base cakes. Maybe an Astros cake if they keep beating my Yankees.”
Customers will be able to pre-order cakes for their own celebrations. The restaurant will also serve some cakes by-the-slice.
To create the proper atmosphere, Berg enlisted New York design firm ICRAVE. Pastel colors and photo-worthy details will establish the retro-inspired environment.
A preview of the restaurant's patio.Courtesy of Berg Hospitality
“When Ben described how Buttermilk Baby would re-imagine the classic American soda fountain in a modern, approachable form, we instantly fell in love with his vision,” Steve Radom, managing principal of M-K-T developer Radom Capital, said in a statement. “Ben has been blessed with an intuitive sensitivity that allows him to reinterpret his life’s experiences into exciting hospitality offerings.”
Buttermilk Baby is one of several restaurants Berg Hospitality has under development. In the coming months, the company plans to open all of the following — Benny Chows, a Cantonese-style Chinese restaurant that will be located next to B&B Butchers; Canopy Social, a British Caribbean-inspired patio bar above Benny Chows; La Table, a reimagined take on the Galleria-area French fine dining restaurant; Tavola, an Italian restaurant below La Table; Annabelle Brasserie, a restaurant in the Autry Park mixed-use development that will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Turner's Cut, a fine dining steakhouse in the Autry Park mixed-use development; and Prime 131, a wood-fired steakhouse in the Docks at Timbergrove mixed-use development.